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Moya victory among primary day highlights

New York Teacher

UFT-backed candidate Francisco Moya defeated convicted felon and disgraced former state senator Hiram Monserrate in the Democratic primary on Sept. 12 in the contest for the open seat on the New York City Council for the 21st District in Corona and Elmhurst, Queens.

“The UFT was a large factor in Francisco Moya being successful,” said Dermot Smyth, the UFT’s political action coordinator for Queens.

The union organized phone banks for four days targeting just under 1,000 households with UFT members in the district, made calls urging members to vote for Moya, mailed fliers, knocked on UFT members’ doors and, on Election Day morning, sent members reminders via text message to vote for Moya.

“It was a very contentious race,” said Smyth.

On Election Day, Monserrate’s campaigners were observed shouting invective at Moya’s volunteers. “They were yelling from across the street near one polling site,” said UFT Political Director Paul Egan.

Moya, who will give up his seat in the State Assembly, defeated Monserrate with more than 55 percent of the vote.

Moya’s was one of five contested races in Queens, and the union’s endorsed candidates won in all of them.

Citywide, UFT-backed candidates claimed victory in 13 out of the 16 contested Council races where the union made an endorsement. Of particular note, Adrienne Adams won the race to fill the vacant seat left by former Council Member Ruben Wills, who was convicted on corruption charges, in the 28th District in southeast Queens. Margaret Chin kept her seat in a close primary race in District 1 in lower Manhattan. And Justin Brannan won the race to fill the seat vacated by Vincent Gentile, who could not run for re-election due to term limits, in the 43rd District in southwest Brooklyn.

Mayor Bill de Blasio handily won his primary, overcoming a field of little-known challengers with 74 percent of the vote. The UFT has endorsed the mayor for a second term, citing his creation of the largest prekindergarten program in the nation and his support for public education.

In the race for Brooklyn district attorney, the UFT backed Eric Gonzalez, the acting district attorney after the incumbent, Ken Thompson, died unexpectedly last year. With the union’s support, Gonzalez overcame five challengers.